Two of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s brilliant minds, Matt Coleman and Emily Unity were recently named in the Out for Australia's 30 Under 30 awards, which celebrates outstanding LGBTQIA+ individuals under 30.

Matt and Emily were chosen based on their tangible contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community, success in their field, and the qualities they exhibit as inspirational role models. 

Matt ColemanMatt is a passionate and driven PhD student based in the Bruce Lefroy Centre at MCRI. He is studying novel genetic causes of brain malformations and epilepsy in children and aims to improve clinical care and diagnostic outcomes for these children. 

In addition to being recognised nationally through this award, Matt has established an international reputation in translational neurogenetics. He is also dedicated to social justice and improving diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life. Matt does this by working to remove systemic barriers to inclusion for diverse people.  

Matt is passionate about science communication and volunteering and is a founding member of QueersInScience, a national advocacy organisation that builds community and improves support for LGBTQIA+ people in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) in Australia. Matt leads by example as a champion of diversity and inclusion and aims to be a role model for LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEMM.  

Matt has worked to establish and build a campus-wide Pride network over the past five years to ensure everyone at the Melbourne Children’s Campus feels safe and accepted.   

“In 2022, I was one of the leaders of the first-ever contingent of the Murdoch Children’s in Midsumma Pride March. I was also recently awarded the inaugural Royal Children’s Hospital Rainbow Spirit Award. This award is amazing, and I was very honoured to have received it,” Matt said. 

Matt is confident this award will help put Murdoch Children’s forward in terms of diversity and inclusion. In turn, this will translate to greater financial support from donors and government grants such as the VicPride Festivals Fund grant. 

Emily UnityEmily is currently away in Copenhagen for a youth mental health conference, usually championing Lived Experience Engagement at the Campus Mental Health Strategy. Emily tells us that as the child of a refugee and an immigrant, they felt like their life’s goal was to ‘fit in.’ Emily stated, “My parents had worked so hard to adapt to new cultures, lifestyles, and languages. They had faced discrimination everywhere they turned. They tried their best to protect me and teach me how being ‘different’ was so harmful for them.”

Announced as one of the 30 Under 30 Out for Australia Awards feels surreal for Emily. “When I first started advocating in queer spaces, I was inspired by so many of this awards’ previous winners and have been immensely privileged to even work alongside some of them..” 

Emily is thankful to everyone who has inspired them to come home to themselves and wants to help others to do so too. In particular, their parents, who have grown and learned just as much as they have along this journey. Emily says, “I am grateful for everything we’ve experienced together, especially how learning has often involved hilarious discussions around me holding queer flags and my parents asking - what country is that?”  

Emily is honoured by the award and says that they are excited to continue working towards a world where there is “nothing about us without us”.